The FINANCIAL — BEIJING, A new round of six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue opened in Beijing on Monday despite the North's refusal to recognize Japanese participation.
The main goals discussions, bringing together the United States, China, Japan, Russia, and the two Koreas, are to agree on the role of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, and on a verification protocol, which could include nuclear waste checks and soil analysis at nuclear facilities.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, who is chairing the meeting, said that work on a timetable for concluding the second phase in the three-stage denuclearization process would also be high on the agenda.
He said agreements must be "implemented in accordance with action-for-action principles."
A series of bilateral meetings were held before the start of the main negotiations, but North Korea refused to hold a meeting with Japan. Pyongyang last week said it did not consider Japan a party to the talks, due to Tokyo's refusal to meet its obligations under a six-party agreement.
Japan has refused to provide its share of the one million tons of fuel aid pledged to the reclusive communist state under a February 2007 deal, demanding that Pyongyang first disclose all information on Japanese nationals abducted by the North during the 1970s and 1980s.
Under the six-party deal, the North pledged to dismantle its plutonium-producing Yongbyon reactor and provide full information on its nuclear program.
North Korea has made several calls in the past for Japan to be excluded from the negotiation process.
However, U.S. chief negotiator Christopher Hill said prior to the meeting on Sunday that the position of North Korea was "definitely not changing anything for us."
"Like all six-party meetings, it's going to be a difficult negotiation," he said.